Get Your Definitions Right

A look at why its important that you define what writing and success are to you.

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In writing, it’s important that we define what certain things mean to us as writers. I was speaking to a writer recently who said that they hadn’t done any writing for a while. Naturally, here come the questions asking if everything’s okay. They weren’t writing because they were editing another book. They didn’t class that as writing.

What does writing mean to you? I’m not talking about the emotional question writers get asked somewhat frequently. Practically, if I asked you when was the last time you did some writing, what would your answer be? Would it be the last time you actually sat down and wrote words? Maybe the last time you edited? The last time you thought about writing? For me, I count thinking about writing as writing. Don’t get me wrong, that’s a dangerous rabbit hole to start going down – if you don’t keep on top of that you’ll be one of those writers who does nothing but talk and think about writing but never sits down and puts words to page. Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with that, other than that person probably fulfilling their full potential.

There’s a difference between types of thinking about writing. For me, sitting watching Netflix and thinking I should really write the next bit of my book doesn’t count as writing. But if I’m washing up and my head is playing out different scenarios for the next scene that I need to write, or I’m trying to figure out an issue with the next scene, I count that as writing. I may not be getting actual words on the page but I’m still doing the work. I think allowing myself to think this way has also done a lot in helping me stave off writers’ block for as long as I have – I’ve stopped beating myself up for taking time out to think about writing. It’s made me a healthier writer.

Another thing to define is success. How do you know if you’ve made it or not? Again, this is important for your own wellbeing. If you would call yourself a successful writer when it makes enough money for you to do it full time, you might be waiting a while. You could have tens of books traditionally published and not reach that. That sounds pretty miserable, doesn’t it? Maybe success, to you, is having a book traditionally published. Or reaching 100 people with your book. For me, mine is when I get an IMDB writing credit. I don’t want to write a film, but I’d get a credit when they make a film based on my book. That’s a pretty lofty goal and I’m well aware that I will, more than likely, fail at this. But that’s what my success looks like. What does yours look like? Have you thought about it?

Defining these things can go a long way in making you a happier writer. It makes things more attainable and more realistic. Without the pressure that you’re mistakenly putting on yourself, you might find that you can become a better writer and those goals of yours will be more likely to happen.

David Chitty was born and raised in Thanet in the 90s. He devotes most of his energies to writing fantasy fiction novels.

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